Review: Maserati Levante (2016)
One of the most stylish SUVs on the market. Handles superbly well for what is a big vehicle. Huge boot and lots of rear legroom. More exclusive than the usual competition from BMW and Audi.
Originally only available with a diesel engine. Brakes could do with more bite. Clunky gear selector.
Maserati Levante (2016): At A Glance
- New prices start from £56,250, brokers can source from £65,358
- Contract hire deals from £594.66 per month
- Insurance Group 50
It's a sign of how the the car market has changed in recent years that Maserati - one of the most exotic car manufacturers around - now has a diesel SUV in its line up. We kind of expected it from Porsche with the Cayenne, but Maserati...
So this is the way forward it appears. After all, everyone wants SUVs these days. You only have to drive into any town centre car park to see that. How many actually go off road? Zero. But do people still buy them? Yes. They'll say it's for practicality and the like, but much of it is for status. An SUV is seen as that bit posher than a saloon or hatchback.
And when it comes to status, few brands carry as much weight as Maserati. Drive a Levante and you'll attract plenty of attention, much more so than a similarly expensive BMW or even a Porsche. It's this exclusivity and brand image that is a big part of the appeal for the Levante. If you want something different from the crowd, the Levante is it.
This does come at a price, though. The Levante starts at more than £55k new, although in context that's actually not bad at all. It's close in price to a Cayenne diesel and similar to a high-spec Audi Q7.
From launch, only a diesel Levante was available. The same big 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that's used in the Quattroporte and the Ghibli. With 275PS, it's not short of power - but it's the 600Nm of torque that makes this SUV so driveable. In mid-2017, the Levante S was added which has a 430PS 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. Built by Ferrari no less.
The standard gearbox is an eight-speed automatic and the Levante comes well equipped with air suspension as standard, a torque vectoring system, adaptive cruise control and of course navigation. That's not to say you won't find it easy to add on £10k worth of options without even trying.
It's described by its maker as 'the Maserati of SUVs' and it certainly follows the same path as the Ghibli and Quattroporte. That means the Levante is powerful, incredibly comfortable on the move and has a top quality interior. Yes the gear selector is clunky, the brakes could do with more bite and the steering lacks feel through corners, but that doesn't detract from what is one of the most appealing and desirable SUVs around.
What does a Maserati Levante (2016) cost?
Maserati Levante (2016): What's It Like Inside?
While the Levante is striking on the outside, the interior is a little muted in comparison. There's no denying the quality. It feels superbly finished and well put together plus there are various wood trims and leather finishes available so you can personalise your Levante as much as you'd like.
When it comes to the cabin layout and controls, it's fairly standard Maserati fare. So the design is neat albeit predictable and while everything is easy to work, there's nothing special that makes it stand out. It lacks the modernity of an Audi Q7 - but thanks to the excellent touchscreen system, there are less buttons than on the Porsche Cayenne.
That touchscreen controls all the main functions although there are still buttons for the air conditioning and a proper dial to turn the radio up and down. In fact, it is one of the best 'infotainment' systems (yes we hate that word) around with a responsive screen and a crisp, high-res display.
You'd expect some of the buttons and controls to be nicer on a car at this price - the large indicator/wiper stalk looks distinctly old hat, but those are only small gripes in what is a very high quality cabin. Crucially, it gets the basics right, with an excellent driving position that lets you see the end of the bonnet, handy as the Levante has a big turning circle.
What the Levante also has is space. And lots of it. There's plenty of legroom in the back along with good hat space. This is where the Levante trumps the Ghibli - it's far more spacious throughout.
The boot is big, too, with 580 litres of carrying space. In the real world this means several big suitcases, golf clubs and an electric trolley with no issues. You can even stow a pushchair with room to spare. That said, a BMW X5 has more boot space as does a Jaguar F-Pace.
Child seats that fit a Maserati Levante (2016)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Maserati Levante (2016) like to drive?
- Engines range from 3.0 to 3.8
When the Levante was initially launched just one engine was available - a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel. It's the same engine used in the Ghibli and the Quattroporte and has identical power figures with 275PS. That's slightly more than a Porsche Cayenne diesel and the Levante also has slightly more torque with 600Nm.
The Levante is slightly quicker than the Cayenne from 0-62mph, taking 6.9 seconds, but it's the in-gear pulling power that makes the Maserati so strong on the move. All that torque means it's rapid when you want to overtake a slower vehicle or are pulling onto a fast dual carriageway from a short slip road.
Economy is pretty good with a claimed 39.2mpg, although in everyday driving you're more likely to be seeing a figure in the late 20s. But even then, with an 80-litre fuel tank, you won't have to stop for fuel too often.
The engine isn't exactly quiet - we'd best describe it as 'characterful' - but the deep rumble does add to the feel that this is a sporty SUV that's designed to be noticed. The throttle response is better than that of the Ghibli and the Levante is keener to respond when you want acceleration.
Put it in Sport model (there are two sport modes in fact) and the engine note is even more pronounced, plus the exhaust is louder, although accelerate hard and you're met with a not especially nice suction noise rather.
While there are no issues with performance, selecting a gear in the Levante isn't that great. The gear lever has quite a clunky operation rather than the slickness of something like a BMW. It means that it's easy to get P when you're going for R, resulting in embarrassing stationary revving rather than parking...
When you're on the move, that's not a concern of course and the Levante's eight-speed gearbox works superbly well. Like the Ghibli and Quattroporte, it also has a manual mode where you can use the steering-wheel mounted paddles to change gear.
They're fixed to the column rather than the wheel, which makes them a little awkward to use. It also takes quite a pull to change gear rather than the minimal action of paddles on cars like the Audi Q7. But this is a personal preference thing and most people rarely use them in everyday driving.
Where the Levante excels is with its ride quality. Thanks to the air suspension, it's incredibly smooth and comfortable, despite the big alloy wheels. The ride height adjusts depending on your speed, plus you can lower it to an access height when parked. Even over poor road surfaces or motorway expansion joints, it continues to ride well.
There are, however, a few small issues that only become apparent if you start to drive the Levante with a bit of gusto, which we're sure is the point (this being a Maserati). The brakes seem strong initially, but lack bite when you really need to engage them, for example approaching a tight bend at speed.
Then there's the steering. It's heavy and meaty at low speeds but strangely lacks feel when you're negotiating a corner. That's not to say the Levante doesn't handle well. Quite the opposite, in fact - it's one of the best SUVs around through corners with minimal body roll and huge reserves of grip. Good enough to rival even the Porsche Cayenne.
|3.0||23–24 mpg||6.0 s||278 g/km|
|3.0 D||34–39 mpg||6.9 s||189–190 g/km|
|3.0 S||23–24 mpg||5.2 s||253 g/km|
|3.0 SD||23 mpg||5.2 s||282 g/km|
|3.0 V6||39 mpg||-||189 g/km|
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What Cars Are Similar To The Maserati Levante (2016)?
Key attributes of the this model are: Comfortable seats, Four-wheel drive, High quality interior, Large boot, Modern technology, Motorway cruiser, Quiet cabin, Raised driving position, Refined ride, Room for a buggy, Petrol engine, SUV and Premium crossover.
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